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Are the Capitals Any Better Off Then Where They Were Two Years Ago?

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Old
05-13-2012, 06:37 PM
  #51
BigT2002
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I think they were somewhat better. But they rely soooo heavily on Backstrom-Ovy-Semin-Green to do everything it feels like

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05-13-2012, 06:38 PM
  #52
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Yes, they found a goalie.

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05-13-2012, 07:11 PM
  #53
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Our defense is much, much better. Carlson/Alzner are great, (and while I'm a homer, most Bruins and Rangers fans will tell you the same thing) a legitimate first pairing and are only going to get better. Green's still a first pairing player, despite the set backs from injuries. And Orlov looks like a top 4 player. And although Hamrlik is only a short-term solution, he was phenomenal in the playoffs. But even if we lose Green after next season, we will likely only need one more top 4 defenseman.

In goal, both Neuvy and Holtby have the capabilities to be good starting goalies. Holtby has the edge right now. And we have Grubauer, who looks solid, too.

But our forwards are much weaker. Ovi isn't the game changer he used to be, although he's also not as bad as some think. And we still need a 2C. Backstrom's excellent. Our bottom 6 is very good, but if Semin leaves, we need at minimum two more top 6 forwards - a 2C and another 1L/R. Both Laich, Chimera, and Brouwer are decent top 6 wingers, but none are first line players. Johansson or Perrault might be a 2C in the future, possibly as soon as next season, but they aren't quite there, and both might be better suited on the wing. My ideal but not totally absurd solution would be if Kuznetsov came over and we traded some combination of draft picks and prospects for a 2C like Plekanec or Pavelski. But who knows who will be available.

Overall, I like the composition of this team better, because the difference in the defenseman between now and then is greater than the difference in fowards.

That said, I'm not sure if Hunter can get the most out of this team.

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05-13-2012, 07:21 PM
  #54
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In short our roster is much better overall, but our coaching is still the same. Went from all offense to all defense with no change in result, and possibly pissing off your top players by not giving them the TOI they should have. Honestly, they need to morph BB (07-10) and Hunter to form a good ALL-AROUND coach. If they get that, the team will be much, much better.

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05-13-2012, 07:24 PM
  #55
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Same result as before - only now they are so much less popular because their superstar has been neutered and they scraped their way in to the playoffs.

Get themselves a new coach.

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05-13-2012, 07:25 PM
  #56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wickedwitch View Post
Our defense is much, much better. Carlson/Alzner are great, (and while I'm a homer, most Bruins and Rangers fans will tell you the same thing) a legitimate first pairing and are only going to get better. Green's still a first pairing player, despite the set backs from injuries. And Orlov looks like a top 4 player. And although Hamrlik is only a short-term solution, he was phenomenal in the playoffs. But even if we lose Green after next season, we will likely only need one more top 4 defenseman.

In goal, both Neuvy and Holtby have the capabilities to be good starting goalies. Holtby has the edge right now. And we have Grubauer, who looks solid, too.

But our forwards are much weaker. Ovi isn't the game changer he used to be, although he's also not as bad as some think. And we still need a 2C. Backstrom's excellent. Our bottom 6 is very good, but if Semin leaves, we need at minimum two more top 6 forwards - a 2C and another 1L/R. Both Laich, Chimera, and Brouwer are decent top 6 wingers, but none are first line players. Johansson or Perrault might be a 2C in the future, possibly as soon as next season, but they aren't quite there, and both might be better suited on the wing. My ideal but not totally absurd solution would be if Kuznetsov came over and we traded some combination of draft picks and prospects for a 2C like Plekanec or Pavelski. But who knows who will be available.

Overall, I like the composition of this team better, because the difference in the defenseman between now and then is greater than the difference in fowards.

That said, I'm not sure if Hunter can get the most out of this team.
Damn! I always forgets about Kuznetsov being a Caps. Bring Kuznetsov in Washington for next year. Let Semin walk and give Semin's money to Ryan Suter ?

Seriously that would be scary!

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05-13-2012, 10:14 PM
  #57
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Originally Posted by reffree View Post
But they weren't outplayed by Pittsburg and surely not by Montreal.
This. Washington played every bit as well as all three teams. If they got by Pitt in 09, they probably would have won.

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05-13-2012, 10:18 PM
  #58
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The chocolate salesman needs to be stripped of his C.

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05-13-2012, 10:22 PM
  #59
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Originally Posted by cowboy82nd View Post
Yes, they found a goalie.
That's such a tenuous thing in the NHL. A bad 10 game stretch next fall for Holtby and they may well not have one anymore.

In reality, the Capital predicament is really just a lesson on how hard it is to win in the NHL. You can't even really say the playoffs results are that harsh on them. I don't think in any of the past seasons they were prohibitive Cup favorites or even the best team in the East really. They're a good team, but that's about it. The Caps were a good team at times in the 80s too and it didn't do them much good then either.

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05-13-2012, 10:30 PM
  #60
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The Caps are no better off. Again failure...end of story.

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05-13-2012, 10:40 PM
  #61
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wickedwitch View Post
Our defense is much, much better. Carlson/Alzner are great, (and while I'm a homer, most Bruins and Rangers fans will tell you the same thing) a legitimate first pairing and are only going to get better. Green's still a first pairing player, despite the set backs from injuries. And Orlov looks like a top 4 player. And although Hamrlik is only a short-term solution, he was phenomenal in the playoffs. But even if we lose Green after next season, we will likely only need one more top 4 defenseman.

In goal, both Neuvy and Holtby have the capabilities to be good starting goalies. Holtby has the edge right now. And we have Grubauer, who looks solid, too.

But our forwards are much weaker. Ovi isn't the game changer he used to be, although he's also not as bad as some think. And we still need a 2C. Backstrom's excellent. Our bottom 6 is very good, but if Semin leaves, we need at minimum two more top 6 forwards - a 2C and another 1L/R. Both Laich, Chimera, and Brouwer are decent top 6 wingers, but none are first line players. Johansson or Perrault might be a 2C in the future, possibly as soon as next season, but they aren't quite there, and both might be better suited on the wing. My ideal but not totally absurd solution would be if Kuznetsov came over and we traded some combination of draft picks and prospects for a 2C like Plekanec or Pavelski. But who knows who will be available.

Overall, I like the composition of this team better, because the difference in the defenseman between now and then is greater than the difference in fowards.

That said, I'm not sure if Hunter can get the most out of this team.
That's what I was wondering, how caps fans generally felt about that. I tend to subscribe to the 'should have stuck with the offensive juggernaut style and it would eventually work (ie. as defence and goaltending matures)' theory. But I don't really watch the Caps more than once or twice a year. You guys do all the time. And this years playoffs certainly have not been kind to a run and gun offence.

I guess another way to look at it is: is the reduction in regular season performance and the 'hope' and excitement that creates counterbalanced by a feeling that this is now a team that is better prepared to win playoff series?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheMoreYouKnow View Post
That's such a tenuous thing in the NHL. A bad 10 game stretch next fall for Holtby and they may well not have one anymore.
After Crawford's performance in the playoffs last year I thought Chicago had found one too. Maybe they still have, but it certainly is tenuous.

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Old
05-13-2012, 10:51 PM
  #62
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I really think they need to upgrade their bottom 6. Yeah, they have hard working guys in their bottom 6, but there's no threat to score there. Matt Hendricks is awesome at what he does, but do you really want him playing 18 minutes a night?
That's more because the players who started the season in the bottom 6 ended up in the top 6. Put players like Chimera and Laich back in the bottom 6 by upgraded the top half of the roster, and that's no longer an issue.

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Old
05-14-2012, 01:50 AM
  #63
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Without reading the thread before posting this, I have a feeling I know what I'm going to read. Something to the effect of: "Yes, they're finally playing the right way and everyone is buying in." Not true.

Systematically, they're no better than where they were 2 years ago. They did some good things this year--kept shots to the outside, blocked shots. But their execution of other things was appalling. They couldn't pass, squandered countless odd-man rush opportunities, had trouble consistently getting scoring chances and/or shots on net, couldn't establish a good forecheck, had tons of trouble breaking up the cycle in the defensive zone, and struggled with breakouts when under pressure.

Just because a system, or team has a defensive bent doesn't mean it's the 'right way' to play. Playing the 'right way' means working hard, sacrificing yourself for the team on the ice, and, most importantly, executing the system in all three zones. The Caps' work ethic was uneven, and their execution was incredibly inconsistent.

As far as the personnel aspect, on defense and in the bottom six, the Caps are significantly better off now than they were two years ago. In the top-6, it all hinges on Ovechkin. If he can regain much of his form, they're potentially better off. If not, they're worse off than they were without some significant adjustments/additions.

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Old
05-14-2012, 01:55 AM
  #64
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Originally Posted by Lshap View Post
Disagree. Pittsburgh overpowered them, Montreal out-coached them. In both series, the Caps' relied on a strong offense but forgot about their weak spots, which were exploited to beat them. We saw that same issue in the past month with the Flyers and Canucks, two great teams with glaring holes that were exploited to beat them.

This year the Caps had no obvious weak spot. True, they didn't make the final-four, but they came as close to it as possible. Unlike Nashville, St-Louis and Philly -- three strong teams who were beaten convincingly -- there was nothing convincing about Washington's loss. They could/should/might have been in the final four just as easily as New York. I'm a Habs fan with nothing for or against Washington, but they really impressed me.
Montreal didn't come close to out-coaching them, unless Martin's coaching strategy was "let them have 20+ shots per game between and below the dots and let our goalie steal the series".

The Caps completely dominated that series territorially and were beat when the goaltender got hot.

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05-14-2012, 02:40 AM
  #65
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This year the Caps had no obvious weak spot. True, they didn't make the final-four, but they came as close to it as possible. Unlike Nashville, St-Louis and Philly -- three strong teams who were beaten convincingly -- there was nothing convincing about Washington's loss. They could/should/might have been in the final four just as easily as New York. I'm a Habs fan with nothing for or against Washington, but they really impressed me.
Scoring an average of 2 goals per game is anything but impressive. I consider that a pretty glaring weakness for a hockey team. You aren't going to go very far in the playoffs if your offense is that terrible.

And this team barely made the playoffs this year and has a very good shot at missing them next year, so no I definitely do not think they are better off than they were 2 years ago. Just last year they won the Eastern Conference. I don't see them doing that again anytime soon.

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05-14-2012, 03:26 AM
  #66
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Honestly, I can't wait to see Ovi hoist the Cup.

He's one hell of a player. People (read: CBC & NBC) love to criticize him so much. But have you seen how much he's bought into Hunter's system? He'd do anything for the Caps, and you've gotta respect and admire that.

I hope he has a better regular season next year. And I sure as hell hope he hoists the Cup next year.

Disclaimer: I'm a Leafs fan first and foremost, and every other team can go screw itself if they're facing the Leafs. But I don't expect the Leafs to go deep into the playoffs next year -- though I pray they do make it to the playoffs.

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Old
05-14-2012, 04:14 AM
  #67
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A few thoughts..

Goaltending:
-A Holtby-Neuvirth is a great 1A/1B situation for Washington, pitting two quality young goaltenders in a competition for #1 on a strong defensive squad

Defense:
-They need to limit Hamrlik's minutes in his final season with the club

-Dennis Wideman needs to be let go.. He was #1 in TOI/G in the regular season and #6 in TOI/G in the postseason .. that is simply unacceptable, he is an extremely poor defensive player and his offensive abilities do not make up for this

-The final few games of the playoffs had Mike Green really starting to look like his old self again. A top 3 of Carlson(2way)-Alzner(shutdown)-Green(offense) in addition to a more experienced Orlov is a great top 4. Hamrlik in limited minutes with another solid, hardnosed defenseman would give the Capitals one of the best defense cores in the league

Forwards:
-They need to put Ovechkin back with Backstrom full time. Backstrom is the most dynamic two-way forward on the roster, as well as the most creative offensive forward. He has also exhibited unmatched proven chemistry with Ovechkin, and the pairing will give Washington the dominant offensive first line they need.

First Line: Ovechkin-Backstrom-?(Brouwer)

-I say they take advantage of the situation and keep Semin at the discounted price he will surely sign for. He is best friends with Ovechkin and is coming off a down offensive season which truly puts the ball in Washington's court in terms of contract negotiations. He is a great offensive threat on the 2nd line and a pretty great defensive forward as well. It'd be nice for he and Johansson to develop some more chemistry and for Johansson to take the next step in 12/13 and slot in more comfortably as the #2 center.

Second Line: Semin-Johansson-?(Laich)

Bottom 6:
-Washington has got to hope that the 11/12 playoffs proves to be a coming out party for Matt Hendricks. There were flashes of promise throughout the regular season but in the playoffs he proved that he can be relied on to play hard top 9 minutes -- and excel in the position. Jay Beagle also falls in the same category, and in an even bigger way. A relative unknown prior to the playoffs, he was absolutely dominant as a checking line center throughout the playoffs. The pairing slotted with the right choice of winger would give Washington a dominant shutdown line throughout the season if they are able to replicate their postseason success in the regular season.

Third Line: Hendricks-Beagle-?(Chimera)

-This leaves three spots open in the top 9. I believe all of Laich, Brouwer and Chimera are perfectly suited for these positions. Laich is the outspoken captain-type figure on the team, a great defensive player and a clutch scorer. Brouwer is a hard-nosed forward with youth, experience, physicality and offensive ability firmly on his side. Chimera contributes an element of both speed and size which are huge to any roster.

The fourth line is really the only line I'd make any changes to. Joel Ward is good in a mixed bottom 6 position, earning more minutes on the roster when he plays well but generally logging 4th line minutes. I'd like to see Cory Eakins take the next step and earn a full time position on the Capitals roster slowly working his way into consistent bottom 6 minutes. I'd also like to see the Capitals sign a grizzled veteran with a pedigree to fill the final position. Some names I'd go after in free agency include Paul Gaustad, Chris Kelly, and Dominic Moore.

-At this point in time the bottom 6 has a bunch of interchangeable forwards with different strengths and skillsets. I am using the playoffs as an indication of things to come for the Washington Capitals. As a GM however, I would throw a few more talented bottom 6 forwards in the mix and let them duke it out for prime defensive minutes in the postseason.

The powerplay:
-One thing that drove me absolutely crazy was seeing Dennis Wideman being given the opportunity to QB the powerplay in favour of Mike Green -- and fail miserably. Prior to his injuries Green had stepped up as the BEST PPQB in the entire league! If their is one place he is going to excel offensively and build confidence its on the powerplay! Let him utilize the extra time and space and let him play with the top offensive players and get his game back together.

I honestly don't think the Capitals need to make that many moves this offseason but rather stay the course and hope for a few better bounces next season. This is the first season of the Dale Hunter experiment and the Capitals, though hard to understand given their length of success are still a very young team. Let the players mesh together and grow as players. This core will likely be in tact for another 2 or 3 seasons, and it's hard fought playoff losses like this that make them work even harder this offseason and throughout the duration of next season.


Last edited by HockeyThoughts: 05-14-2012 at 04:21 AM.
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Old
05-14-2012, 04:29 AM
  #68
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still no Cup, still the same. Sure defense and structure wins in the playoffs. It took them 2 years to embrace an ageless fact?

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05-14-2012, 08:05 AM
  #69
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Second line center is still a big concern...Johansson can't hack it at this point, and if they lose Semin it's a decent blow to their overall offensive depth despite his inconsistencies. Kuznetsov won't be over for several more years...

I do like their defense though and they should be set in goal even if Holtby struggles a bit next season, Neuvirth should be there to pick up the slack.

They have good role player depth and Backstrom and Ovechkin will remain threats almost every game

Whether or not they are better depends in how consistently they play next year, I think. They should easily be a playoff team again, probably win the division, but can't be so wildly inconsistent if they want to do so. Coaching could play a big role in that...if Hunter comes back they might benefit from the continuity but a new coach could mean some struggles adjusting

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05-14-2012, 10:05 AM
  #70
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In 08/09, 09/10 and 10/11 they were one of the truly elite teams in the league. Never made it past the 2nd round, but they were a great team regardless, with regular season finishes of 2nd in the east in 08/09, 1st in the entire league in 09/10 (with an 8 point lead on the west-leading Sharks, and a ridiculous 18 point lead on 2nd in the east), and 1st in the east in 10/11. Over these 3 seasons combined they had more points in the regular season than any other team in the league. Ovechkin was a legit superstar who scored 50-65 goals in each of those seasons, they were electric offensively, and people felt like they were so good/talented that it was just a matter of time before they won a cup, or at least made it to the finals.

This season Ovechkin looked way more "mortal" than ever before, and the team was pretty "meh," finishing 7th in the east, losing the division to the Panters, and just barely squeaking into the playoffs (0 points ahead of 8th, 3 points ahead of 9th). They are currently a worse team by far than they were in 08/09, 09/10 and 10/11. Now, that's not to say the future is dark for them, they have plenty to get excited about:
- Holtby is 22, and could mature into a really good goalie
- On d they've got plenty of youth - Orlov is 20, Carlson 22, Alzner 23, and even Mike Green is just 26
- Plenty of young forwards too - Mojo is 21, Backstom 24, and Ovy 26. Other young roster forwards include Eakin (20) and Perreault (24). Kuznetsov is a great prospect if he comes over, and Galiev isn't a bad prospect either

They've also got the 11th and 16th overall picks in the 2012 NHL draft. Plenty of reasons to be optimistic for the future, but this season specifically was clearly a MAJOR downturn for the team, not a positive at all, more of a HUGE step back. If Semin leaves as a UFA, and Kuznetsov stays in Russia, then this poor year could become a trend.

I personally think that trying to turn the Caps into a grinding team is a bad call. You can play a high octane, highly skilled, offensively aggressive style and still win cups, or at least make it to the finals. Most teams that have either won cups or made it to the finals recently have been among the highest scoring teams in the league, and have emphasized a skilled offensive game. The only team to make it to the cup finals without being top 6 (or at least tied for 6th) in regular season goals for is the Edmonton Oilers in 05/06, every other team that has made it to the finals since the lockout has been an offensive powerhouse in said season(s) (Detroit, Pittsburgh, Boston, Chicago, Philly, Ottawa, Vancouver, Carolina and Anaheim).

The ideal coach for the Caps would be someone who knows how to coach a high octane offensive system while ALSO instilling some discipline. Boudreau had the offense down, I think he's a great hockey mind, but he didn't have the personality to command the respect of his players, he lost the team emotionally. They need someone who understands offense like Boudreau, who is also a strong leader that can force players to play hard and responsibly. I'm talking about a coach like Mike Babcock, Dan Bylsma (Philly series aside, he normally has them playing fast paced offense AND great defense), Claude Julien, Paul MacLean, etc. Going to a pure grinding system ignores the greatest strength of the Caps' core, which is explosive offense. The system/coaching should adjust to the roster/core, not the other way around.
I'm in agreeming with your point of view. As for the name mentioned, Bylsma is overrated(I still think Therrien did the heavy workload) and Julien plays the same style as Dale Hunter, very disciplined and very defensive. I agree with Maclean though, I love everything about him. He let his guys express themselves. They play hard in every zones, they are skilled and gritty. I don't know what he does but it's magic. (I think the Rangers got lucky)

I have to say I miss the high flying scary talented Caps. I hated them when the Habs played them because mainly the Habs couldn't keep up most of the time. But dammit they played great hockey. In my opinion changing the Caps was a bad thing for the entire league.

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05-14-2012, 12:11 PM
  #71
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hey people blaming Syomin (that's right spelling! "Semin" sounds like "Semen Varlamov" instead of "Semyon Varlamov") for laziness and lack of defensive effort, have you watched this PO? I have a feeling the most of blaming people just follow a stereotypical trend which means "a lazy soft russian taking stupid penalties, floating near offensive blueline, avoiding contacts and disappearing in PO". Nobody all around the league has changed his play like Semin has. Just look at his stats: he is among the best by takeaways though he has had much less ice time than defs or grinders! His defensive effort and two-way playing was impeccable.

His biggest problem is GMGM who can't solve an eternal 2C problem wasting cap space for a garbage and so forcing Semin to play with grinders and recent AHLers like Margaret Johansson. Well, let him go to the pens this summer and watch a 50+ scorer playing with an adequate center next season.

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05-14-2012, 12:38 PM
  #72
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Exact same

Green is a shadow of what he used to be, and I don't see why Semin would stick around.

That's plenty of money freed up to go get guys that actually want to and know how to win in April, May, and June.

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05-14-2012, 12:41 PM
  #73
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Another GMGM's mistake is absense of proven skilled veterans. Look at Broons: no Recchi - no Cup. Look at Caps: veterans are healthy scratches but the roster is full of inexperienced recent rookies and AHLers.

Starting PO with a rookie goalie is a laughable sign of the capitals franchise. All caps fans should pray for inspiration of a rookie goalie and so on every year - is it a sign of a serious franchise?

One more stupid GMGM decision is making Ovi a C. He has made a blind copy of a Shero move. They made their icon a C? No problem, we'll do the same! But English is not an Ovi's mother tongue. I doubt he can find necessary words to shake and encourage the team in a culmination moment. Of course Ovi speaks English but his vocabulary is rather poor and basically hockey-related.

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05-14-2012, 06:35 PM
  #74
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I think they should go back to their high-flying offensive ways, but with the defensive knowledge they learned this year. A winger to play with Ovy and Backstrom (they need to play together), a 2-way 2nd line passing type of guy is all you need to slot there. And a guy with some skill to compliment their defensive bottom 6 guys.

Otherwise, i think their failures have been mostly coaching-related. You should not neuter a team with Ovy, Backstrom, Semin (who i think played well), and Green. You let those guys go and utilize their elite creativity, which very few players in the league have.

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05-14-2012, 06:44 PM
  #75
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I doubt they win a Cup with OV as the centerpiece, let alone wearing the "C".

They're worse off than they were two years ago. Hunter surprisingly had them playing above their heads in the playoffs, but he just jumped ship. Better that than getting fired after your star player gets caught cursing at you on TV

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